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NH shifts funds for debt relief

Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp., visited the Harrison County Council earlier this month to request a sum of $200,000 of the school’s riverboat gaming funds to be shifted from education to property tax relief.
Last year, the school board moved $232,000.
‘As you well know, you provide roughly $800,000 to us in debt relief, and this additional 200 will put us right at that $1 million mark,’ Richards said at the Nov. 13 meeting. ‘It represents about 22 cents overall on our debt service, 22 or 23 cents depending on assessed value. This will leave us approximately $400,000 in our education fund to schools. We use that for everything from band to library books; technology has a been a big winner. We try to do things that will offset capital project items that will further lower our need for tax levy. We have about a 3.3 self-imposed tax cap on levy due to the middle school project. We’re going to make sure to honor that throughout this process. I can’t promise we’re going to make this request every year.’
Councilman Gary Byrne, a former North Harrison school board member, said he appreciated Richards making the request.
After a question from Councilwoman Holli Castetter, Richards spoke about the Chromebook/laptop program at NH.
‘South Harrison and Lanesville are one-to-one; that generally implies you’re handing a laptop or Chromebook to every student. We’re probably 3/4 to one. We’re moving in that direction. I’m not here to tell you I’m going to hand a sixth grader a Chromebook to take home. As Mr. Byrne can attest, I’m a little bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to that sort of thing. I do feel like there’s a place for technology, for this initiative, and we’re moving in that direction … But we’re not quite there yet. There’s a benefit in going last. You can see the mistakes everyone else is making. We’re close.’
Richards said all students have access to computers, Chromebooks or iPads.
‘I don’t want to take away from those initiatives,’ he said. ‘We’re just not ready to hand them to a student and (they) walk out the door.’
Richards said they also use the education money to offset textbooks for students by 50 percent, at a cost of $92,000.
The county council approves riverboat sharing each year for the three school corporations based on enrollment. This year the approved total was $2.5 million.